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Poster: George Peter Gatsis Date: Feb 23, 2011 11:43am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Question of VIDEO-CELLAR or anyone else... re: DRACULA...

"Dracula is another character that has never been in copyright. This one actually annoys me a bit because the failure of the courts to notice that there was absolutely no copyright in the novel Dracula is the reason why "Nosferatu" doesn't survive in the state that it deserves to. But it also makes me laugh a bit because Universal Pictures paid a fortune for non-existant rights that they still think they 'own'.

This post was modified by Video-Cellar on 2008-05-02 22:28:56"

Can someone create new Dracula content for commercial purpose?
What is the concern regarding dracula mentioned by Video-Cellar?

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Poster: DJason Date: Feb 23, 2011 2:02pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Question of VIDEO-CELLAR or anyone else... re: DRACULA...

You can create any new Dracula content you want, so long as you don't incorporate anything from derivative Draculas that ARE under copyright (Universal's Drac movies, and most of Hammer's). If something was created new for those versions, and you use it (more than an idea, we're talking specific incidents, scenes, etc.), you get into much thornier, more litigious territory.

On the other hand, if you wanted to write a literary sequel to Bram Stoker's book, and load it down with arty pretension and excessively artificed prose, then congratulations, you are Elizabeth Kostova, your first book made you rich, and you have no worry about being sued for infringement. :)

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/The_Historian

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Poster: George Peter Gatsis Date: Feb 23, 2011 2:18pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Question of VIDEO-CELLAR or anyone else... re: DRACULA...

FInally!!!

Now I understand why sooo many Dracula movies butchered the original story, from Bela all the way to Copola...

Nobody actually stuck to the script... AT ALL!!!

Would it be, they feared if they did the story, shot for shot, it would be considered public domain? That's ridiculous... but I don't see any-other reason for such poor editing of the original novel.

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Poster: Elric_Dewisant Date: Feb 24, 2011 6:31pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Question of VIDEO-CELLAR or anyone else... re: DRACULA...

Point of history here, which may also help explain some things. According to the Kino "ultimate" DVD release of the film, when Nosferatu came out in the 20s, Stoker's widow was still alive and acting on behalf of his estate.

Apparently, what went down, was that she was approached to consult on the film, because, as was rightly pointed out, he novel was already out of copyright then, and she turned them down. Apparently, film was, in her eyes, about as tawdry as prostitution, which was a common, though dying, mindset when vaudeville was king (it also explains why Keaton was delayed until 1917 before entering film, as he father felt that way and forbid him to give up the cash cow that was the family stage act for "that degenerate thing called film", but that's another snippet).

When the film went ahead without her, she was so incensed that she sued in every single nation the film opened....and usually won, even though she didn't have a legal leg to stand on, anywhere. In the end, she had control over nearly every last print (which she had destroyed, including the negative) and right to the damn thing...hence it's very sad state, today...and possibly the gun-shy attitude every filmmaker seems to have toward the PD property.

I wonder if the Stoker Estate is still around...

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Poster: Freddie Jaye Date: Feb 25, 2011 11:35am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Question of VIDEO-CELLAR or anyone else... re: DRACULA...

The estate is till in operation (at least, it was in late '09). Supposedly, an official sequel to the book was about to be released then, and this article also mentions movie rights to it.

http://io9.com/#!5361879/bram-stokers-descendant-pens-official-dracula-sequel

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Poster: George Peter Gatsis Date: Feb 26, 2011 9:57am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Question of VIDEO-CELLAR or anyone else... re: DRACULA...

Out of sheer curiosity... I went over to gutenberg.org and downloaded the text... and had the computer read Dracula to me...

(yes, yes... I am a lazy bugger)

And there is no place in the novel that remotely suggests any of the characters would develop dark attitudes like Seward ending up a drug addict...

I fear the new official sequel novel to Dracula by the "Family" is just a generic attempt at storytelling (ex. dumping on what happened before) and a grab at money...

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Poster: DJason Date: Feb 23, 2011 2:46pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Question of VIDEO-CELLAR or anyone else... re: DRACULA...

No no no, you can make a movie with the book as your script if you want, and what you make will still be considered a derived work -- you added the various actor's performances, set and costume design, cinematography, shot selection, framing and composition, music, and all kinds of other works which belong to you. All of that is newly-created by you, so it doesn't matter that the source is public domain.

Point being, if someone swipes (for example) your music, you have legal recourse. But if someone adapts the original novel themselves, with equal fealty to the source book, you can't stop them, because the source is public domain. Everything you add to it belongs to you (or whatever entity owns the copyright on the resulting work[s]).

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Poster: DJason Date: Feb 23, 2011 2:52pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Question of VIDEO-CELLAR or anyone else... re: DRACULA...

On a different point, there is good reason why film adaptations of novels rarely stick exactly to the story the book tells. Prose and drama are different media, with different storytelling expectations and requirements.

Even the most cinematically-written novel, when adapted to film, will have changes along the way. The closest adaptation I can think of is John Huston's take on Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon", which is remarkably faithful to the book, but still drops three major scenes from the book. And Falcon is one hell of a lot shorter than Dracula.

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Poster: George Peter Gatsis Date: Feb 23, 2011 5:10pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Question of VIDEO-CELLAR or anyone else... re: DRACULA...

Awesome!!

Thank you.